Message from the President: Update on discussions with Foundation Grant holders

November 5, 2019

Dear colleagues,

As you know, we shared the transition planning options for Foundation Grant holders back in July. Since that announcement, our staff have held calls with more than 80 individuals to clarify the options and consider specific requests. Based on these discussions, a number of common themes emerged and were subsequently brought to CIHR's senior leadership for a decision.

Many of the requests were regarding:

  • Additional accommodation time (e.g., ability to apply for Project Grants sooner than the 18-month eligibility window allowed);
  • Additional or alternative funding support (e.g., ability to keep any funding overlap without pro-rating new Project Grant funding, support in the form of terminal grant funding, return of the balance of those grants that were cancelled following the acceptance of their Foundation Grant); and
  • Accommodation in the case of a funding gap between the end date of their Foundation Grant and the start date of a new Project Grant (e.g., when the Foundation Grant ends on June 30 but the new Project Grant does not start until October 1).

As these types of questions have likely been on the minds of many Foundation Grant holders, I would like to share our decisions broadly.

After careful consideration, CIHR's senior leadership has decided not to allow additional accommodation time (i.e., the earliest that individuals may apply for Project Grants will remain 18 months before the end date of their Foundation Grant) or additional/alternative funding support (i.e., pro-rating will apply to any new Project Grant that has not been deferred).

This decision is rooted in the principle of fairness as we endeavour to balance individual needs with impacts on the system as a whole.

To deal with cases of a funding gap between the end date of a Foundation Grant and the start date of a new Project Grant, however, an accommodation already exists: costs can be incurred between receipt of the Notice of Decision (NOD) and the funding start date of a grant. As such, the difference between the end date of a Foundation Grant (June 30) and the typical NOD date of a Spring Project Grant competition (mid-July) will only lead to a gap of 2-3 weeks, rather than three months. The guideline for such retroactive expenses is included in the financial administration guide—but it is the host institution that assumes the liability, so please note that approval is at the institution's discretion. To be clear, this option exists for all successful applicants (not only for returning Foundation Grant holders), and it does not have an impact on the total value of the grant (the total value remains the same, even if expenses are incurred "early") or the grant end date.

Over the course of these discussions with Foundation Grant holders, we have also received a number of questions about the funding overlap/pro-rating component of the transition process. For more information, please see the example of how the pro-rating could work for a returning Foundation Grant holder.

I hope that all of this information has been helpful. As these transition planning options are meant to be parameters for people to work within, we recognize that additional questions may arise as individuals shape their own approach based on the current state of their research and their plans for the future. Our discussions with Foundation Grant holders are continuing, so we will keep you informed of any additional themes—and the resulting decisions—as these calls unfold.

As always, if you have any additional questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out to the Contact Centre.

With best wishes,
Michael Strong, MD, FRCP, FCAHS, FAAN
President, CIHR

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